The Truth about Motherhood - Geelong Photographer Michelle McKay explains why documenting motherhood authentically is so important.


In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2017, I'm offering lifestyle breastfeeding portraits. See the bottom of this piece for details.

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2017, I'm offering lifestyle breastfeeding portraits. See the bottom of this piece for details.


Last night I was up three times with my son. 

He’s 13 months, and while I hoped he’d be sleeping better by now, this is where we are. 

Three times. 

Then we were up at six o’clock to start the day. 

My daughter wakes like a hurricane - a stampeding, elephant-baby hurricane - with ideas and demands that fly at a mile a minute, all things strewn with abandon in her wake.

So the house transforms from quiet space to jungle-gym-circus with the opening of her door. 

We did breakfast and puzzles and I watched patiently (okay, mainly patiently) as she and her strong will got dressed once and then two times before finally demanding yesterday’s frock from the dirty washing pile.

My son cried when I put him on the floor and when I went to the toilet and when I took the cup of water he was pouring into his lap and when I changed his nappy and when I put him down for his morning nap and when I helped with his jumper and when his sister knocked him over with the Elsa Cape which was once a humble muslin wrap.

We did drawing and play dough and lunch and I listened to my daughter’s shrill staccato singing ring from her bedroom while I tried to get some work done in the early afternoon.

Within minutes she’d woken the baby, so with resignation I got them up. I asked if she'd enjoyed her nap and she nodded solemnly (least said, best mentioned - I hope to keep nap time for a good few months more).

We hung two loads of washing while my son pulled the wet socks from the bottom rung of the clothes horse, and then as we drew on the pavers with sidewalk chalk he ate what must have been at least half a succulent plant before I finally realised and moved him out of the garden.

While I breastfed in the baby’s room, my three year old emptied her closet to make an epic clothes nest, stripped to naked, turned her underwear inside out, put three seperate pairs of socks on her hands, and then banged and barged against her brother’s bedroom door, demanding square crackers with butter.

Eventually I switched on Nemo and to the sound of my son’s protests I thawed chicken and began preparing a meal no three year old would touch until the moment we announced it shower time (at which time she would become ravenously hungry).

Then a swirl of wet and whingeing, my daughter wailing her intent to exercise absolute independence while an increasingly tired almost-toddler plays a very vocal game of THE FLOOR IS LAVA.


And then it’s done, and they’re asleep. 

And for the first time all day, the house is quiet.

And for the first time all day, I can do other things.

And I feel relieved and exhausted and also a little like my left arm is missing. 

And I wonder how I did today, and I wish for more space and more time while I simultaneously miss them.

I stack the dishwasher and marvel at my daughter’s cleverness.

I close my eyes and breathe in my son, who’s glorious scent is still on my skin. 

I relive the quiet moments we shared through the day. The times the whole world was only as wide as a single concrete paver and the three of us leaning over it, adding our crude marks with pastel coloured chalk.

Or when I gave in to the madness, stopped looking outwards and instead collapsed beside my daughter on the couch. I felt her body melt into my own and sensed the oneness of motherhood, of having a child - this intimacy and knowledge and rightness that comes from belonging to one another. The absolute familiarity that comes from a sharing and a nourishing and a comforting that began long before the first breath.

This is why I am compelled to document motherhood. 

Because with the way life is, there is so little and so much and such an ambivalence of feeling for mothers. There’s this balance we seek but maybe never manage regarding what it is to be a woman and a child rearer and an independent human being with desires, goals, dreams.

This motherhood, it’s incomparable to anything else; a calling that lifts you up and holds you down, all at once.

I want to document motherhood.

Real motherhood. The quiet motherhood, the intimate motherhood, the profoundly personal and familiar and instantly recognisable motherhood - so that we as women can see it and own it and cherish it forever.

Because in the moment, we don’t always truly appreciate it. Because why should we always have to? 

Because there deserves to be a record of all we have done and all we have offered and all it has meant - to us, to our families, to our children.

Because this confusion of feelings that comes with being MOTHER, with having a child who you love so terribly and so fiercely, is something hard to articulate, impossible to put properly into words. 

So I try to capture it with photographs. 

I want to freeze moments of time so we can look and see and finally feel Ah… I think I might understand, almost. 

We are told daily that time slips fast from our grasp, yet when we are stuck, trapped in the sluggishness of time, it’s impossible to believe it’s true. 

Even while in our bones, we know it.

I want to document the marriage of tender and ferocious adoration that is the mother love.

The weeping love, the laughing love, the love that sees you sacrifice it all, time and again. 

The love that leads you to give all and give in. 

The love that grinds you down to the bone yet somehow leaves that softest part of you glowing and glorious and good. 

Fulfilled. Complete. 

This is the truth about motherhood. 

And it is what I am most driven to document.

Click here  to see more of this stunning Intimate Motherhood session.

Click here to see more of this stunning Intimate Motherhood session.


Breastfeeding Mothers of Geelong!

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2017, secure a Breastfeeding Storytelling Portrait Session with Geelong Photographer Michelle McKay.

These are being offered for this week only.

Details - 30 minute in-home session, artfully capturing you nursing your child. (This session may include additional children but the focus of these portraits is your breastfeeding story.) After the session you will receive TWO 8x12 fine art printed portraits, stunningly matted and ready to frame. Also included are SIX high resolution digital negatives on a custom USB for social media sharing and your own archival purposes. The cost of this session is $400.

If your feeding journey does not involve breastfeeding, you too can have your story documented at a special rate this week. Contact me for details. x


Click here to book.

Do you long for some gorgeous and authentic photographs that will tell your family's story? Your motherhood story? The story of your new baby? The miraculous story of birth?

I am a Geelong lifestyle photographer, so if you're in Geelong or Melbourne I am here to tell your story. Click here to book.

(PS - I am currently looking for an expecting mamma whose birth story I can document at an introductory rate - see this post for details.)